The Laugh Out Loud (at the Australian Writers’ Centre) online course has 10 modules and it's led by children's book author Tim Harris. In each module, Tim Harris covers a new concept about being funny. I don't think I'm a funny person but doing the course taught me a lot about being funny. I learned about surreal humour, which is like the Treehouse series humour. I learned about wordplay. I learned about puns, toilet humour, using repetition to deliver humour, and dialogue and ping pong conversations between characters. One of the other things I learned about humour is to have a setting where the characters are exposed, so somewhere where there's a lot of people watching them when something terrible happens. This is funny to kids. This makes them laugh because it's not just them that's seeing it or reading about it … there's like crowds of audiences also seeing the funny unfold. Moving forward with my writing, I'm aware now of some ways that I can put funny into my books, which, you know, is awesome! I have a toolbox now full of ways, or tools, of how to be funny. So when I'm writing something, I can dig around in my toolbox and work out, “Okay, what type of humour do I want to use in this chapter or on this page?” Tim Harris is pretty funny!
In other Looking for Lily news, I completed my first Book Week school visit and a child dressed up as Dawn for Book Week (pictured). How awesome is this?!
Last, I've been working on a new junior fiction chapter book called Silly Willy for Class Captain. This month it was long listed in the Larrikin House and SCBWI writing competition. Woo hoo! It feels great to know my writing is going well. I will work on this manuscript some more and then submit to publishers. Wish me luck!
Happy International Literacy Day!
Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 771 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today. This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide under the theme Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces and will be an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all. To find out more, visit UNESCO. To celebrate, Hannah Beazley is giving away three autographed copies of Looking for Lily via her social media and website. With almost all copies of my small print run gone, this is a great way to get your hands on one of the last copies. To enter, click HERE.
Then, the beautiful offset printer copies of Looking for Lily arrived, and I mailed them out to everyone who pre-ordered a copy. And finally, people started talking about Looking for Lily online while I battled the Covid monster. What a month!
Kristy Talks About Looking for Lily on The Wayne Nicholson Show
Listen to my experiences with writing and independent publishing on The Wayne Nicholson Show. This podcast is available via Spotify, Apple, Anchor FM and YouTube.
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Kristy Talks About Her Writing Process
I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a mum on the run. (Kristy sings Baby Shark). I love filters because it means I don’t have to put any makeup on. Back in the day, I studied film, and it would take us ages to get our talent ready. We’d have to put their makeup on, we’d have to set up the lights. But now, we have amazing filters. So, no make up for me, no lights for me, just this filter. You should see what I really look like in the mornings! Today I’m going to talk about my process of writing books for kids. So first, I have a film and TV degree. That helps a little because I know how to write scripts. Second, I’ve read a lot of books about writing. That helps a lot too. The book I like the best about writing is The Writer’s Journey, because it shows me the structure of a story broken down into sections. My friend Kathryn Lefroy told me about Invisible Ink, which is the Pixar way of writing stories. This helps a lot too, to think about character and plot. And every new writer always reads Stephen King's book on writing … I’ve forgotten what it’s called, but I’ll put it in the video. So, the first thing I do when I want to write a story is work out my characters. Who are they? And because I write chapter books and junior fiction, the main character is usually always a little boy, or a little girl, or a little person. I need to build a journey for my character or an arc. I need to have the character start in one spot and either go up with enjoyment and end in a happier place, or go down with sadness and end in a sadder place. Or go down and then up and end up in a happy place. As long as my character goes on a journey, then I’ve done what I am supposed to do. So, I think about all my characters this way. So, who is the enemy? Or who is the person or the character or the feeling or the emotion or the problem that the main character has to overcome? And that’s the key to making the story interesting. There has to be conflict. I like to develop characters that aren’t cliche. If I develop a character that feels like it might be a girl or it feels like it might be a boy, I like to switch those up. If I develop a character that’s cheeky and sassy, then maybe they’re not the kid that always gets in trouble, or maybe they are. So, I just have a think about what people normally think a character would do or be and then I try to switch it up a bit. You know, give it a bit of spark or spunk. Usually, I look for inspiration. I’ll search the web for pictures that remind me of my character. I’ve even hired an illustrator off Fiverr to draw my characters to get me moving. Once I’ve worked out who my characters are and stuck some reference pictures around my room, that’s when I turn back to The Writer’s Journey, and I plot out the story. You need to have one main idea, something that the characters do, something they are going to achieve. I like to think about my setting as well. How is my setting involved in the story? Then once I’ve kind of got that idea, then I plot out each section of the book, each chapter. I use The Writer’s Journey to do that. I make post-it-notes, and I do the world before things change, then I move into the middle section where the world changes, and then I go towards the end where I really “up” the ante. Lots of conflict and lots of quests and lots of problems to overcome, and then at the end we come back to the real world. And the characters need to change. They need to learn something. They need to be different in a way that a reader can identify. Once I’ve got my story worked out, then I write. I just see where it takes me and I try not to worry about it. I try to get through a full draft. And then I can worry about it and do some edits. Maybe I can punch out a first draft in 6 months. But then showing it to people, getting constructive criticism, finding out what works and what doesn’t work, making changes, re-writing, editing, re-writing again … it’s a vicious cycle that goes on forever. The hardest part for me is getting the time to write. With two kids and a job and a house and a family and an extended family … it’s almost impossible finding time to write. That’s definitely my biggest hurdle.
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Kristy Reviews AWC Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 Year Olds Writing Course
Funny story … I wrote Looking for Lily because I got sick of seeing my friends traveling the world on Facebook while I was stuck in bed, breastfeeding in the middle of the night, with my husband snoring next to me. I stalked them as they followed their dreams. It was so depressing. So, I stopped using Facebook and I turned to Notes. During the nightly feeds, I’d quietly tap away, jotting down my ideas for characters and story. Then, while the baby slept during the day, I pulled my ideas together and worked on it some more until I had a first draft. But like many first drafts, it wasn’t great. And I didn’t know what I was doing. After all, I failed English in high school and only started reading novels in my twenties. I didn’t understand simple things like past and present tense or person. It is interesting to know that my very first draft of Looking for Lily was written from the perspective of the old rainbow trout, Winston. But kids don’t want to hear about old things. They want to hear about things that apply to them, things that are young and exciting. But writing saved me. I didn’t want to give up. This is when I enrolled in my very first writing course. I did it via the Australian Writers' Centre because I’d heard that they were the best. The course was called Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 Year Olds and it was presented by chapter book author Leslie Gibbs. The course was made up of 10 modules, with Leslie presenting in each module. She’d recorded herself on camera and included the videos. There were also reading lists and there were activities, writing activities, for me to complete after each module. The chapter book course covered things like word count and length, sentence structure, word choice, themes and vocabulary. This course made it clear to me, I shouldn’t be writing for myself. I need to be writing for the target demographic. At the end of the course, I could submit 500 words on a scenario. This work was given directly to Leslie, and then she recorded a video reading my work. I could hear how it sounded from a professional author reading it aloud. It was fantastic! And then, after she read it, she gave me some tips on how to make my work better.